Before I bought the Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007), my friend told me, “You should buy it. It’s good, just don’t read into all the hype surrounding it.” Though I was not hooked into literary circles enough to hear much hype about it, I had heard of the book (it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction after all) and heeded her advice. And I loved the book, which is a true triumph of an ethnic minority voice lodged firmly in the US.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a fictional saga of a family from the Dominican Republic, who flutter between there and the US. Junot Díaz creates a very believable Dominican Americans voice, interspersed with non-essential Spanish words here and there. And although many of the books’ events are tragic, the tone is whimsical and ironic, which pumps the story along with much momentum.
Lastly, I want to clarify: My friend’s advice was spot on. The book’s extremely accessible and a fun read, and it would not have been that had I been holding it up to Pulitzer-sized expectations.
Article by Jason Li, May 22, 2010.